‘Shooting fish in a barrel’ – See what I did there, ahh never mind… Recently I have had the privilege of getting a behind the scenes look at both the Sea Life Sanctuary in Manly, and the Sydney Sea Life Aquarium at Darling Harbour.
Being able to put a set of SCUBA equipment on and dive in these incredible aquariums was an experience not many people ever get to have. Tight controls and time frames meant only 30-45 minutes in each display to work out the lighting and get the images I required.
The Sea Life team have certainly broadened my views on how first class aquariums are run. Their aim is to not only to entertain, but to educate, rehabilitate, rescue, breed and protect animals that most people would never get to see.
Alongside the Great Barrier Reef aquarium, they present audio-visual displays about the evils of single use plastics. Their successful breeding programs for critically endangered sharks continue to aid disappearing species. Rescue programs have resulted in animals permanently housed at the aquarium that could not be released back into the wild. Recently they also oversaw the speedy facilitation of returning a juvenile White Shark back to the ocean.
Not everyone is able to travel the world and visit the reefs of Australia, PNG, The Maldives, Fiji, Solomon Islands and many more that I have been fortunate enough to see first-hand. Plus, it is human nature to favour protection of the things you can see over those you can’t. This is where these incredible aquariums have the ability to reach and hopefully influence so many people.
Being able to produce images for the Sydney Sea Life Aquarium to attract people to their displays has been incredible. I hope these images go some way to showing people that this is only a very small part of what exists in the real world and demonstrate first hand just how incredible these ecosystems are. Showing these animals, all animals, are worthy of our protection made this a very special job for me and I am looking forward to doing more with them in the future.
Wuru was orphaned as a calf and rescued by the Sea Life Aquarium team. They had tried previously to rehabilitate her exhibit friend, Pig, and return him to the wild but it didn’t work, his condition deteriorated and so he was bought back to the aquarium. Wuru was never physically strong enough to attempt to rehabilitate so they have cared for her since she was a calf, feeding her an astounding 80kgs of cos lettuce a day and looking after all her needs. Weighing in at 400kg she really is a gentle giant.
My first experience diving with sharks back in the mid 90’s was with a colony of Grey Nurse on the mid north coast of NSW. I was fascinated and have closely followed the plight of these beautiful creatures ever since. They were virtually hunted to extinction in the 60’s and 70’s. However, in 1984 they were the first shark species listed as protected. Some of the people from the 60’s and 70’s who hunted these animals are now at the forefront of protecting them.
The Sea Life team are one of only a handful of aquariums worldwide to have successfully bred Grey Nurse Sharks in captivity. I’ve personally observed these sharks in the wild many times and seen numbers decline in certain areas. Not surprisingly, in the areas designated as marine parks and their surrounds I have spotted and heard of sightings more regularly. The Australian Government’s recent announcement that they want to decimate much of the work that has already been done to establish marine sanctuaries strikes me as absurd.
Enjoy your day,